Monday, December 20, 2010

Keeping It Simple for the Holidays

Regardless of how you celebrate the holidays, there are three things you’re likely to spend money on: gifts, food, and gas.  It’s difficult to avoid the extra spending that December necessitates, but there are ways to spend more thoughtfully.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for saving money when it comes to gifts.  Every family has their own traditions, economic realities, and comfort levels.  The best thing you can do is be realistic about your budget (which implies you should set one, eh-hem!) and be sensitive to others’ needs. 

If there are still folks on your shopping list, here are some other ways to light up someone’s face without breaking your bank:

·       Give the Gift of Creativity.  All you crafty people out there should relish in your talents and pass your creations along to others.  Framed photography and art, knitted and crocheted items, pre-made scrapbooks, quilts and throws, canned goodies, or baked yummies all make for thoughtful gifts.  A small amount of money is devoted to supplies, but the rest is all you. 

·       Do a Drawing.  This is a particularly useful option for large families or those who are hurting financially.  Simply do a drawing so everyone is responsible for one and ONLY one other family member.  Instead of having to buy lots of little gifts, you can concentrate on one special present.

·       Set Price Points.  While you should have an overall budget, setting specific limits can be helpful for friends, siblings, or even significant others.  This may be an amount that you set yourself or something you discuss openly with loved ones.   
·       Play Detective.  No one wants to give a gift that’s a flop.  Despite your best intentions, if a present goes unused, that’s ultimately misspent money.  Take the guess out of shopping and simply ask what a person could use.  Then you’ll know you’ve spent your money on the right item.

·       The Gift of Empowerment. A good gift should enhance someone’s life.  Any present that can be educational or used for self-improvement is always money well-spent.  These are simple items like books for the smarties, tools for gearheads, or baking supplies for your foodies.   
·       The Rain Check.  January is a holiday-less month.  Why not try to push back some of your gift giving by a couple of weeks?  It can help take the strain off of December’s budget, and you can snag some great after-holidays deals if you’re inclined. 
·       The Gift of Time.  No price can be put on your willingness to save someone a little time.  Night off from cooking, evening of childcare, a week off of a certain chore (cat litter anyone?), an interruption-free bath … let someone off the hook for a couple hours.  

·       The Radical.  If you really want to break with tradition and your family is open to it, forgo all of it.  Have a big potluck instead and enjoy the time with each other.  A full belly and a warm house, yes please!   

Mike and I are going for Option 1 and are baking up a storm over the next few days.  This is an ideal solution for a couple that loves to be in the kitchen!  Beyond large quantities of flour and eggs, the only gifts we’ve purchased are clothes for the nieces/nephew.  

Ok, we technically bought two overpriced Hallmark ornaments for our tree to keep up with a tradition we started 9 years ago, but that’s all we’re doing for ourselves.  And that’s nothing to awww over; we haven’t given gifts to each other for several Christmases now and it doesn’t bother either of us.  
Next week we’ll reveal what we made for our homemade goodies and what we spent on them!

Question of the Day: What are ways you’re trimming your gift-giving budget this year? 

1 comment:

  1. We have a very strict budget for actual gifts and plan on keeping to that. Everyone will get one small gift and, after the New Year, a gift card. The "babies" will be getting books, as usual, but that will be after the New Year, too.We do plan on making homemade soaps for late gifts. That will be done in the dead of winter, January, and everyone will get some lovely scented soap.
    I cast my vote for a drawing next year... anyone over 18 draws for one person over 18.
    I must admit that I miss having piles of presents under the tree, bulging stockings, all that fun stuff, but? It is time to simplify, likely permanently.